FAQ: Kitchen Work Zones, What Are They?

last year
last modified: last year

"Zones" are areas in your kitchen where the work occurs. Work in the kitchen is broken down into three primary work zones. Everyone has these three zones, everyone!


Prep Zone...This is the zone where food preparation takes place. Food prep can be anything from making a sandwich to preparing a multi-course meal. It includes cleaning/rinsing food, cutting, mixing, processing, etc.

For many people, especially those with small kitchens, their Prep Zone is also their Baking Center for rolling out dough, etc.

70% of the work and time spent in the kitchen is spent prepping. It's the most often used and longest used zone in your kitchen! So, this zone should be placed in the most desirable place – where you will want to work and will enjoy working.


Cooking Zone...This is the zone where you take the food you've already prepped and apply heat...cooktop, oven, microwave (MW).

Only 10% of the work and time spent in the kitchen is spent actually cooking. This is the least used Zone, relatively speaking. Think about it, you usually don't spend the entire time standing in front of your oven or cooktop watching your food cook. Sure, there are some things that do have to be stirred constantly, but most things do not. And even then, you usually still spend more time prepping before you begin cooking.

This is the zone that should be the most protected from traffic, especially traffic that's "just passing through".


Cleanup Zone...This is the zone where the dirty dishes are handled! Tasks include clearing the table and counters, loading the dishwasher (DW), wiping down the table and counters, sweeping the floor, etc. Since the DW is in this zone, it also includes unloading the DW, so Dish Storage should be nearby – more on this later.

20% of the work and time spent in the kitchen is spent cleaning up – most of which is not spent at the sink (see above).

[In the past -- pre automatic DWs -- far more time was spent cleaning up because all dishes were done by hand. Today, the majority of dishes are washed in the DW and, with today's DWs & DW detergents, dishes don't even need to be rinsed! So, the amount of time spent in this zone is far less today! BTW, this is where the paradigm of "the sink must be in front of a window" came from – back when so much time was spent hand washing & drying dishes). Today, it makes more sense to have the Prep Zone in front of window or in the most preferred view/location.]


Note: Due to the size limitations imposed by Houzz, this FAQ will span several posts in this thread.

+++++ Please do not bump -- this thread is replacing the FAQ and will be referenced from the "Read Me" thread. +++++

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